Monday, July 17, 2017

Roger Federer Captures Record 8th Wimbledon & 19th Overall Grand Slam

Image courtesy of rainycat's Flickr page - Federer: 

Federer did it!

Just months after defeating Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open, his first major in five years at the time, Federer managed to win his eighth Wimbledon title. That pushes him past Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, both of whom had won seven Wimbledon titles. Federer now has won a record eighth Wimbledon title, and his victory also added to his already record Grand Slam titles, as he now has 19 career Grand Slam championships. 

Also with this victory,  Federer manages to put some cushion between himself and Nadal,  the man who has won the second most Grand Slam titles,  and historically,  Federer's main rival.

Those are obviously highly impressive credentials,  yet what makes this more impressive is that Federer is doing this at a relatively advanced age for a professional athlete. He has reached an age where most other tennis greats have historically either retired,  or are well past their prime.

Sampras,  the man who Federer surpassed to become the most decorated man in tennis history,  was badly slowing down by the time he reached 30, and he retired after winning the U.S. Open in 2002.

But Federer just has kept going,  and he keeps enjoying a tremendous amount of success.

Federer won his record eighth Wimbledon title without too much of a struggle. He won most of his matched fairly easily and relatively quickly, perhaps seeming to struggle a bit early on in the semifinal against Tomas Berdych, but ultimately winning that one in straight sets.  

He met Marin Čilić, the 2014 US Open champion, in the final. Čilić had managed to defeat Federer during that run to the 2014 US Open title, although that was the only victory that Čilić has ever had against Federer. He was not able to make much of a match in this one, either, as Federer took it to him, winning in straight sets again, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. The match did not even last two hours.  

In fact, Federer did not drop a set in this entire Wimbledon run. It was the second time that he managed to win a Grand Slam title without dropping a set, which means that he joins Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal as the only other men to win multiple major titles without droping a set. Both Borg and Nadal had achieved that three times each, although Federer had only managed to do that once before, during the 2007 Australian Open.  

In taking the title at Wimbledon this year, Federer also gained the distinction of being the oldest man to ever win the title at Wimbledon, as well as now holding the record for the most Wimbledon titles in a history that dates all the way back to 1877.  

Federer had won the Australian Open title against his major nemesis, Nadal, earlier this year, but then decided to skip the French Open in order to focus more on the rest of the tennis season. Federer has won the career Grand Slam, capturing the 2009 French Open title, but historically speaking, the clay courts of Roland Garros has been his weakest surface among the Grand Slams. Still, it was a bit of a risky strategy, but having won his second Grand Slam title of this calendar year, and a record 19th overall, that gamble appears to have paid handsomely for him. 

With rivals like Novak Djokovic seemingly hitting a slump, and Andy Murray not playing with the consistency necessary to hold the number one ranking, there might even be an opening for Federer to possibly at least contend for, if not outright win, the number one ranking again. That is not to say that this is a certainty, but it sure seems like more of a possibility than it did a year or two ago, when many wondered if Federer still had a Grand Slam title in him. 

As for the vanquished foe, the Croatian Marin Čilić, many had dismissed him as a one slam wonder, after he managed to win the 2014 US Open title. However, he had a remarkable tournament here in Wimbledon, and despite losing to Federer in the final, he has to feel very good about the kind of tennis that he has been playing lately. He played extremely well to get as far as he did, with his powerful serves and cross-court hits that make him very tough to beat. Indeed, he had a very impressive tournament, even though it ended in disappointment, as he ultimately bowed to the king of the grass courts in the final. 

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